1201-1221 SW Washington St
Micah Camden (of Yakuza, Little Big Burger, Blue Star Donuts, and Boxer Sushi) is opening a new ramen spot downtown, in the new Union Way alley across from the Ace hotel. I went to a preview lunch today.
Here's the menu. I'm not sure if it'll rotate much, but I appreciate its brevity:
There are no topping options. Bowls come as they come. I'm fine with this.
They started us out with the ohitashi:
Despite its "vinaigrette greens" appearance, this was an umami bomb. Chewy, nutty, salt, loads of sesame flavor. Great beer-food.
Next up, a sort of banh mi slider:
The pork belly was tender and flavorful, the pickles crunchy and perfectly sweet/salty. I think the French-style baguette is a misstep, though; a soft Vietnamese one would work better. This was a bit tricky to chew through.
We also got a roasted butternut squash salad that's not on the menu, which was creamy and satisfying.
But this is what you want to see:
Tonkotsu-shoyu ramen. Very thin, very tender noodles. Fantastic smoked pork. Chewy, sweet-and-salty mushrooms. One of the most perfect 6-minute eggs I've ever had. Broth that was both velvety-cloudy and well seasoned. (Some of the much-praised ramen I've had in LA—Daikokuya, Tsujita—had a great mouthfeel but felt way underseasoned to me. Maybe I'm just a salt fiend.)
The whole thing was huge, complex, beautifully balanced, and basically the best bowl of ramen I've had in Portland, after Wafu's opening-day bowls and possibly their tonkotsu. It's $12, which maybe sounds a bit high, but there are many far worse and far smaller $12 lunches downtown.
I'm not a *huge* noodle-soup fan; what I mean is, I mainly dig ramen for the broth and the toppings. I like the noodles if they're good, but I don't need a pound and a half of them. So, that said, I thought this bowl was a bit overnoodled. I don't expect most people will feel that's an issue, though.
Boxer's prices are a few dollars more than, say, Shigezo, but I'd say the ingredient quality justifies it. Their pork was way better than the standard char siu you get, and hey, I like that stuff too.
Micah says they're shooting for November 1st as the opening date. However, it all depends on when he's 100% happy with the food coming out of the kitchen. I bet they'll do just fine.